Contributed by the Cole Health Diversity Equity & Inclusion Committee

Since 1970, June has been celebrated by many as Pride Month, a month-long celebration of queer culture and the promotion of self-affirmation and acceptance among members the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Questioning, Intersex, and Asexual (LGBTQIA+) communities as a counterpoint to long-held social stigmas surrounding the group. It has been recognized by groups including the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association (ASHA), the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), and the American Psychological Association (APA) as a time to celebrate both patients and clinicians that work with or are members of the LGBTQIA+ community and the contributions that they make in their respective fields.


One way of acknowledging and promoting acceptance of the LGBTQIA+ community during Pride Month and beyond is to incorporate the practice of sharing one’s pronouns when meeting new acquaintances or including them in email signatures or other personal and professional profiles. This allows conversations and other communication to refer to people in a way that respects their gender identity (a person’s sense of being a woman, a man, both, neither, or anywhere along the gender spectrum, which may be the same as or different from their birth-assigned sex), particularly when that identity may be incongruent with traditional gender expression (how a person publicly expresses or presents their gender, including behavior and outward appearance such as dress, hair, make-up, body language, and voice).

Forgetting a person’s pronouns or making a mistake in how you refer to them (accidental misgendering) is understandable and can often be corrected quickly with no need for further discussion. Choosing not to refer to someone by their preferred pronouns (intentional misgendering) is both offensive and disrespectful to the person and has been linked to increased psychological stress in both pediatric and adult populations. Whether electronically or in person, if you are unsure of how to address or refer to someone it’s best to ask them directly. Asking “What are your pronouns?” or “How would you like me to address you?” (or something similar) allows the person you’re talking with to share as much or as little as they are comfortable with while enabling you to interact with them respectfully.

As members of a work community with a vested interested in bringing hope and changing lives for the better, we encourage everyone to practice using the preferred pronouns of those around them, even if it is initially difficult or uncomfortable. In the long-term, it can have a significant positive impact on relationships with coworkers, family, and friends alike.

We encourage anyone interested in learning more to check out these links for more information: